Following on from yesterday's news of Microsoft's new Xbox Music service, there's been some confusion on what this means to people with the Zune Music pass, the music subscription service that is built into Windows Phone 7 handsets. Microsoft have clarified the impact the updated service will have. The short answer is that nothing is going to change beyond the rebranding, but there are some points and limitations for people to take note of. In the long term, Microsoft seemed to have played a blinder with their music service.
I'll say one thing about the current round of handset/network leaks, it's making sure everyone knows that Windows Phone 8 is nearly here. Just this morning images of a purported Lumia 822 for the US network Verizon leaked, and it looks like the Lumia 810 is heading for T-Mobile USA. HTC's leak are reinforcing the idea that the Windows Phone 8X will be on every carrier in the US network. Assuming these are all true, that's two wildly different strategies at play, and the exciting news is that both strategies are right.
I've commented before at length (and quoted below) on the pros and cons of having sealed batteries in our smartphones, i.e. batteries which can only be removed or changed at your manufacturer's designated service centre. My stated bullet points are all very well, but I've now had direct experience in the last month that strongly leads me to declare having a sealed battery as a showstopper, for me personally, at least. Below is my tale of woe and a handy table of which smartphones are vulnerable to potential disaster in this way.
Yesterday Nokia announced the beta of Nokia Xpress, a proxy-based web browsing service, for its Lumia devices. Leaving aside the "magazine" and other elements of the user interface, we were keen to find out if the claims of being faster and using less data were borne out in practice. Armed with two different connection methods and six different test sites, we put Internet Explorer from Windows Phone 7.5 and Nokia Xpress for Lumia head to head.
Guest writer Mark Johnson has been deep in real world test territory, trying out the Symbian and Windows Phone versions of Nokia Drive, both in planning, execution and on the road over an identical 110 mile journey. Here's his report. Although the latter version ends up a little less mature than its predecessor, it's worth noting that Nokia Drive and Maps and set for a big overhaul for Windows Phone 8, due out in a month's time. It'll be interesting to see Mark revisit his article in the New Year, perhaps?
Here's a bold prediction for you. The biggest selling Windows Phone device in 2013 will run Windows Phone 7. I wouldn't put my house on it, but I'll give you good odds on it happening. Hold on a moment, Microsoft are gearing up to release Windows Phone 8, there's a bundle of new handsets on the way that are cutting edge (such as the 8X and the Lumia 920), why would the world need Windows Phone 7 devices?
Earlier this year we looked at how many apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace were incompatible with devices with 256MB RAM, such as the Nokia Lumia 610. At the time of writing, in late May, 1.6% of apps were incompatible, but that figure rose to 4.6% for the top 10,000 apps. Four months on, we've crunched the numbers again, and found that the proportion of incompatible apps being added to the Marketplace has fallen significantly.
Now, there's an element of guesswork in what follows, but I did want to address the issue of camera phone design, specifically the use of PureView 'phase 2' for the new Nokia Lumia 920, using Optical Image Stabilisation, large F2.0 lens and faster, brighter LED flash instead of simply using a proper 'Xenon' flash. Using back of envelope-style calculations, I try to draw some conclusions, though one thought keeps popping up in my head: if I was heading to a party or down the pub, I think I'd get better snaps from my 2007 Nokia N82 than the (late) 2012 Nokia Lumia 920. Controversial, me?
Supersizing is the new trend in the mobile world. The adage of 'bigger is better' seems to be the guiding principle in this era of phone design. The Android market has seen larger and larger devices, resulting in the likes of the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Note. Apple isn't immune either; with the release of its iPhone 5, we see the familiar iPhone 4 design stretched to accommodate a four inch screen. The current crop of Windows Phone 8 announcements have all been four inch or greater displays too. Isn't there a need for smaller devices too?
Battery technology underpins all of our mobile devices, yet we take it for granted. Matters are made worse for the curious souls who try to find out more because the information available online about Lithium Ion based batteries is vague at best. If you're curious about Lithium Ion batteries and the difference between them and Lithium Polymer, here's our guide on how they work and how they differ.